There are many ways to lay track for trains toys, but most experts agree that, for anyone really serious about model trains, roadbed is a must. What is roadbed? In the real world, roadbed is the foundation on which train tracks are laid, and is made out of a variety of materials, including gravel and asphalt. This foundation helps keep the track even, and helps trains run smoothly.
So why install roadbed on a track intended for trains toys? There are a few reasons. Many model train enthusiasts like to be as authentic as possible, making roadbed a must. But installing roadbed on a model track has many practical applications, too: it makes running model trains quieter, keeps the laid plywood track smooth, and makes laying, repairing, and re-installing track easier.
If cosmetic issues are the only consideration - such as the inclusion of roadbed in a raised right-of-way - snap-in-place plastic roadbed is available. For the more practical applications considered by the serious trains toys collector, there are three major types of roadbed: cork, rubber, and Homasote.
Cork roadbed is the most common - itís cheap, easy to install, and only semi-permanent, making it a good choice for beginners. If you do decide to go with cork roadbed, though, be aware that cork can dry out, split, and crack. A good tip to avoid this is to spend a little time painting cork roadbed with a latex-based paint. This acts as a sealant and keeps the cork from drying too much.
Rubber roadbed is another great choice if youíre looking for ease - most rubber roadbed is ready to go, meaning that roadbed installation is a simple, one-step process. But rubber roadbed is expensive to buy and permanent, making it more suited to intermediate trains toys collectors.
Homasote is the premium choice in ready-made roadbed installation (some collectors work with asphalt and gravel for the most realistic experience possible). Itís extremely durable and long-lasting, has an authentic appearance, and allows for some customization. It also provides the best sound insulation. But Homasote roadbed is best suited to advanced collectors. Why? First, despite its many advantages, Homasote is quite hard to install - if youíve never used it before, or have no experience with roadbed, you may want to take a class or spend some time learning from another trains toy enthusiast. Second, itís permanent, so you need to be sure of your model track plans before starting a Homasote roadbed.
Model trains can be a lifelong, rewarding hobby, especially if you take the time to plan well. With a little patience and guidance, installing roadbed can certainly enhance this experience.
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Joe Kanooga is a father of two kids, a successful business owner and the author of numerous articles about trains toys. Click here to download a free model trains guidebook filled with hobby tips, ideas and information.
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